Whether you are a ‘one-man-band’ company or a large national organisation the one essential thing you must get right is fire safety. This is not just to avoid penalties like fines and reputational damage but also essentially to keep your company personnel and premises safe from harm.
Unfortunately too many managers see the issue of fire safety, or health and safety in general, as not their concern, or simply not a priority. The UK government states that a person responsible for fire safety in a workplace or other commercial setting is defined as ‘an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business or other non-domestic premises, or anyone else with control of the premises, eg a manager, managing agent or risk assessor.’ So this covers a pretty broadsection of people who are ultimately held responsible for fire safety, yet in some cases fire safety regulations are still not properly adhered to.
Most common fall-down areas:
The issue of fire safety begins at the beginning – with fire risk assessment. If this is never carried out properly to start with the risk of fire, and attendant consequences, is greatly increased. When completing a risk assessment you must first identify potential fire hazards and which personnel are most at risk. Any risks should be correctly evaluated and removed or reduced. Evacuation points and processes should be considered and put in place including those for children or disabled people. The correct fire fighting equipment needs to be put in place and designated personnel must be aware of their location and how to use them.
Importantly, all of the above must be recorded in order to best evaluate and review when necessary and if records are not kept then this is considered to be a violation of health and safety regulations. Record keeping is such a simple process and by keeping a Fire Safety Log Book up to date it is equally simple to stop yourself from falling foul of the rules and regulations.
A work place or other non-domestic premises must have detailed and clear evacuation points which people can access in the event of fire. These must be clearly signposted and unimpeded. Yet in many places it is common to see obstacles placed in front of fire exit doors or fire doors propped open, or fire exit signs which are obscured or missing. These are such simple issues to correct and yet the consequences of allowing a situation like this to continue can be catastrophic.
Proper equipment and maintenance
Having the proper equipment in place like fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire blankets can save lives, prevent injury and prevent extensive damage to premises and property. Equally important is the requirement to keep all your fire safety equipment in full and correct working order. Many fires are started by carelessness or poor work place maintenance and the disaster is then compounded by poorly maintained equipment.
Don’t take the risk of thinking you can ignore fire safety; the consequences don’t bear thinking about.